I've never been much of a dancer, but there was exquisite choreography in the 5am baking sessions at Two Tartes, too many years past now. Mondays through Fridays, and only myself as partner save the dozens of scones, the galettes & cupcakes. A blindfold would not have slowed the pace, which was scheduled to the minute. One misstep meant a lost sale. I kept the pace.
In the coldest of winter I kneaded with my apron tied around a fleece jacket, scarved up to my chin, until the convection ovens began pumping out their radiant heat, and the storefront windows fogged.
Always there was music, and loud: Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Loreena McKennit, Johnny Cash. My alto harmony. No one to hear but the lumbrous 50-pound flour sacks, the many scoops of oats, and the massive bar of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate (eight pounds? ten?) which I wrapped in a towel, took a hammer to.
Later in the winter, on the cusp of the new season, the price of strawberries began to drop, and I'd slice through flat after fragrant flat, fold them into buttermilk scones with a generous handful of white chocolate chips. I penned a card: Berry Whites. Every day they were gone well before the lunchtime rush.
Round about 7am, there would be the predictable call from a desperate customer to "reserve" a toffee brownie: the equivalent of crack, for the (too) low price of $1.25. And legal to boot. (And probably shouldn't have been.)
I don't miss my middle-of-the-night alarm clanging, but I do miss that dance, and mightily. I miss that sugar two-step, that waltz of everything good.
Golden hours, golden days.